Tuesday, July 11, 2017

50 Albums that Influenced Me (Disc Two)

by Germar Derron

(find "Disc One" here)

For a former music major-saxophone player-producer-audio engineer-songwriter-label intern-artist manager, I barely write about, talk about, or even think about music. Maybe I'm bitter. Did I just say "former?" WOW. This list covers the 50 albums that mattered most in my life. 

To make the list, I had to have acquired the full album through some legitimate means. So, very few post-2008 albums make the list because: 1) do CDs still exist?; 2) are there "record" stores?; and 3) Spotify, YouTube, and Pandora. These albums are not necessarily my favorites. And many of my favorite artists and most of my favorite songs are missing. The "then" and "now" scores depict how my feelings have changed with time. Those two scores combined determined the album's overall rank.

39. Hitsville USA: The Motown Singles Collection 1959–1971 (1992) I bought this collection during grad school--for research purposes. I grew up listening to classic Motown. I had planned to release a modern take covers album, filled with lesser known gems like Brenda Holloway's, "When I'm Gone." You know these songs, but with this collection you feel these songs. Then: 9 + Now: 6.3 = 15.3/20

38. Janet Jackson, All for You (2001) This album, her fifth straight smash hit, had some people saying she'd surpassed Michael. They were wrong, but it did solidify her status as pop-dance-romance royalty. She's a treasure. Then: 8.5 + Now: 6.9 = 15.4/20

37. Beach Boys, Greatest Hits (1995) In college I realized that I knew a lot of Beach Boys' songs, and that I liked them. So, I bought this album. People teased me; I'm black, I've never been surfing, and at the time I had never seen the California sun. One date called me . . . "white." I don't care. Brian Wilson is a genius. Then: 7.9 + Now: 7.5 = 15.4/20

36. Kanye West, Graduation (2007) When I spit Graduation lyrics, white folk join me. They remain offbeat and awkward, but Kanye struck something with this one. For better and worse, our pot didn't really start melting until the mid-00s, and Kanye has a lot to do with that. Slowly, but surely, we're graduating. Then: 7.9 + Now: 7.5 = 15.4/20

35. Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill (1995) Here, for the first time, I felt something artistically that wasn't love or sex based. By the time I copped this one I was out of college, and working at a church. And though I loved the Lord, I also loved her stance on THE Church. Then: 8.7 + Now: 6.9 = 15.6/20

34. DeBarge, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of DeBarge (2000) Hopefully, that's the longest title I'll ever type. It's a shame that this stupid talented family had so many issues. You might not know them, but you know their music. In college, I belted this entire album with one of my gay roommates. I didn't know my roommates were gay (I didn't know anything). Then, he tried to kiss me. Then: 8 + Now: 7.9 = 15.9/20

33. Rooney, Rooney (2003) Thank you Beach Boys for inventing the sound that was perfected here. Thank you Rooney. On Rooney, I learned that my favorite genre is not R&B--it's California Rock. Now, I'm west side 'til I die. Then: 7.7 + Now: 8.3 = 16/20

32. Various Artists, Malcolm X (soundtrack) (1992) This album--better than any film, book, or play--best depicts decades of black excellence in the United States. Every track is a meaningful masterpiece. Then: 8 + Now: 8 = 16/20

31. Stevie Wonder, The Definitive Collection (2003) I met him a year ago. He sang his famous "Happy Birthday" right in front of me. He spoke to me (he can totally see btw). I like Michael. I like Prince. But Stevie's catalog might be the best. Then: 9 + Now: 7 = 16/20

30. Michael Jackson, Anthology (1986) This album's "Got to Be There." And yes that's my favorite song, since the third grade, when I thought I would be the next Michael. I know. Most young performers imagine being Michael. Recently, in rural (and racist) southern Indiana, I heard several young white kids debating the best Michael song. That's why he's the King of Pop. Twenty years after I first loved this album, and forty years since my parents loved his first album, he's still hashtag hot. Then: 8 + Now: 8 = 16/20



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